The business of writing - A practical guide for authors
A man who for some considerable time had been contributing regularly each month an article to "The Bookman" under the pseudonym of "Murray Hill" chanced one afternoon to drop into the office of a friend of his who, in the course of his business, happened to be looking over a pile of letters from persons aspiring to write for publication.
His friend, with a smile, handed him one of the letters to read. As he read it, he was inclined to amusement by its extreme naivete. He read more of the letters and his sense of amusement grew. Then the thought occurred to him that once on a time he himself, very likely, would have been quite capable of writing letters equally as simple in heart as some of these.
And he saw in his mind a little picture of himself long ago — long before his years of experience in editorial offices, remote from any such mythical personages as editors, writers and publishers, but consumed with an unreasoning desire to write. His amusement faded. Perhaps, he felt a little fullness in his throat. What a hard and roundabout route he had come since then! If he could at that time, when he was so eager, have known but a little of what he now knew, how many sad mistakes might he not have avoided?
And, indeed, how differently it all might have been with him today! He read on. And his feeling changed to one of amazement at realizing what a great number of people there are in the world trying to write but with no more than the faintest or most garbled notion of the business of writing for publication.
His friend had seemingly read his thoughts, for as he looked up his friend remarked: "There's a chance to do some good 'missionary work' — ^in writing an article about such letters as these. It ought to clear up a good deal of misunderstanding- ing in the minds of beginner-writers who might read it. And I should think, too, that editors and publishers might be glad to see some such educational matter broadcasted."
The article was written and was duly paid for by the magazine. But the primary object in its preparation was an attempt at rendering a little first aid to persons seeking their way to placing manuscripts. And the author of the article had got a new idea — ^he might even become of some help to others in the world. He decided to write a second article on another aspect of the same subject. And he went to his friend, who had before given him so much material, for further help.
In this way, the articles in the magazine began to grow into a definite series. Somewhere in the evolution of the thing, John Farrar, Editor of "The Bookman," came into the plot, as a guiding hand of much value in the scheme to promote among writers unfamiliar with the practical understanding of present-day conditions in the publishing world.
The first several articles were signed "Murray Hill." Then the management of the magazine switched to the real name of the man who had employed that literary alias. Maybe because it was felt to be more mellifluous. Or perhaps for the purpose of identifying them with one more or less known to have been engaged in editorial affairs for some time.
Though the articles were becoming more and more a work of collaboration, the one name was held to, for this reason: The series had begun over the signature "Murray Hill." Then one Robert Cortes Holliday turned up as responsible for them. Now to introduce into the matter a third name, Alexander T. M. Van Rensselaer, might bewilder the readers as to who was writing these articles anyway. Probably, they might have thought, pretty soon you'll see there the name of still someone else. And, also, the Van Rensselaer and-all-the-rest of it name is so long that it makes a queer typographical effect at the top of a magazine page. A couple of the articles were the work altogether of one of the authors. A couple, the work altogether of the other.
"The New Bookshops," for instance, is quite obviously a bit of work by one hand. Though this chapter is not directly in line with the general character of the others it is included as a presentation of a most interesting present-day development in marketing literary wares. As the series proceeded in the magazine numerous letters came in concerning the subject.
One of the strange customs of the publishing business is to include in certain volumes bibliographies that, to the average reader, are just about as unintelligible and useless as the Table of Contents in a book that has no chapter headings. The bibliography in this volume has been designed, not with the idea of simply acquainting the reader with the titles and the names of the authors of a number of books relating to the subject under discussion, but primarily for the purpose of helping the reader to select from the great mass of books published a few that may serve him best and be of the greatest interest to him. To this end a sentence or two has been written under each title, giving some idea of the field covered by each of the books listed, except in such cases where the title seems to be self-explanatory, as for example "The Art and the Business of Story Writing," by Walter B. Pitkin, which is obviously a study of the art and business of story writing. In the preparation of this book, many persons have been interviewed and numerous sources have been consulted.
The authors gratefully express their appreciation for all the valuable assistance obtained. Especially the desire to thank Frederick C. Melcher, Esquire, Managing Editor of "The Publishers' Weekly," and Miss Luise M. Sillcox, Executive Secretary of The Authors' League of America. The work as it progressed in serial publication profited materially from the generously given suggestions, criticisms, and encouragement of William McFee, Esquire.
the book details :